GDG- Killing Lincoln

Matt Diestel agatematt at
Sat Jan 14 15:27:49 CST 2012

> Esteemed GDG Member Dennis Lawrence Contributes:

> At 02:04 PM 1/14/2012, you wrote:
>> The correct term is "speculative popular history". Or "Interprative
>> History".  In the style of bodice rippers.
> Hello,
> There is no such categories as the ones you suggest.  There is no bodice
> ripping in it.  It is not a novel. It is popular history.
> Obviously, you have not read the book.  I have.  I'm not sympathetic to
> it, but that does not change what it is.
> Take Care
> Dennis
> Regarding Killing Lincoln, it seems this is just one more example of the
> seemingly endless debate over what type of history is right and proper to
> be written and published.
   On one hand we have the scholarly, academic works --- most often turned
out by university presses, large and small --- and which seem to have been
written more to gain tenure and force students in the professor's classes
to pay exorbitant  amounts of money at the student book store to use as a
textbook in that same professor's classes.
   Then we have the Popular histories --- as the higher education snobs
like to term it during their "What has history come to?" discussions in the
faculty lounge . --- which people actually buy willingly and read
    It is not that these books are bad histories, but just written in a
lively manner that will make the reader want to turn the next page and the
next and feel both satisfaction and a bit of sadness when the last page of
the last chapter has been read. Indeed, many of the nation's finest
historians --- Bruce Catton, David McCullough, and so many more past and
present (including a goodly many members of this distinguished group) ---
write "for the masses" --- and history is all the better for it.
   And writing for a mass audience --- including when it comes to the Civil
War --- is nothing new. Indeed, the contents for the venerable volumes of
"Battles and Leaders" first appeared as articles in the mass circulation
Century Magazine.
    Is "Killing Lincoln" the best history ever written --- obviously not.
But if it awakes a historical interest in at least a fraction of a much
larger population which seemingly shows little interest in the nation's
past --- and certainly have not been taught about it --- then all the
harping about Mr. O'Reilly's book really does seem academic.
                     With regards,

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